“La Reina del Sur” (“Queen of the South”) is a groundbreaking Spanish-language telenovela series that depicts a naive and innocent young woman from Mexico who becomes the most powerful drug trafficker in southern Spain.

In season two, the “La Reina del Sur” series won an Emmy for Best Non-English Language U.S. Primetime Program. Ronald Day, EVP, Entertainment, Telemundo Networks, which co-produced the series, states: “It is the show that propelled the network to the top of the charts and kicked off Telemundo’s Super Series franchise as the most successful Super Series in the network’s history. It was the show that redefined Hispanic media and set a new standard in our content offering.” 

Where Can You Watch “La Reina del Sur?”

Premiering on February 28, 2011, the first “La Reina del Sur” was produced by the American television network Telemundo (a division of NBCUniversal) in conjunction with the Antena 3 network and RTI Producciones. The second season premiered in April 2019, co-produced by Telemundo Global Studios and Netflix. 

For season two and a potential season three, Netflix has the worldwide streaming rights, while Telemundo has the broadcast rights for the United States and Puerto Rico.

What Is “La Reina del Sur” About?

“La Reina del Sur” is the adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name by Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, chronicling the rise of Teresa Mendoza (played by Kate del Castillo) in the world of international drug trafficking with dangerous criminals. 

Originally, “La Reina del Sur” was supposed to be a movie starring Eva Mendes. However, in the television series that was eventually produced, Pérez-Reverte supported the casting of Kate del Castillo for the role.

The 63 episodes of the first season follow Mendoza as she flees when her pilot boyfriend is executed by the drug cartels and narcos he works for. Seeking to avoid the same fate, the young Mexican woman beelines to the south of Spain, where she becomes entangled in the world of high-stakes drug dealing. Through strategic alliances, a strong business sense, and lots of grit, she rises high in the illicit intercontinental business while paying a high personal cost.

The 60 episodes of season two, shot in over 300 locations around the globe, take place eight years later. We find Mendoza living a happy life in Tuscany, Italy, away from the world of crime — that is, until her daughter is kidnapped, forcing her back into the world of drug trafficking to confront old enemies.

About Teresa Mendoza (Kate del Castillo)

Teresa Mendoza

Teresa Mendoza is played by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who came to the attention of the public in the U.S. with her award-winning performance in the hit Fox Searchlight/Weinstein film “Under the Same Moon” (2007), which is the highest-grossing Spanish-language theatrical release in American history.

Del Castillo starred with Will Smith as the villain in Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” and was also recently featured on NBC’s sitcom “Mr. Mayor,” and the Netflix animated series “Maya and the Three,” created by Jorge R. Gutiérrez. 

Propelled by her leading role performance, “La Reina del Sur” attracted more than 3M viewers in its debut week. One of the things del Castillo loves about playing this compelling character, with her flaws and strengths, is how she evolves from episode to episode and season to season, in ways that continue to “surprise” her.

Del Castillo is reported to be developing a project for TV, which, if completed, will show off her love of extreme sports.

About the Main Characters of “La Reina del Sur”

“La Reina del Sur” has lots of colorful and sometimes dangerous characters, handsome but flawed boyfriends, and other strong supporting characters. Some of the main cast of characters appearing in these TV shows include:

Season 1

  • Epifanio Vargas: Played by Humberto Zurita, this main antagonist character is the Godfather of El Güero — the ruthless leader of the Sinaloa cartel, who also has ambitions to become president of Mexico. While he helps Mendoza escape to Spain, he later orders her assassination.
  • César Güemes “Batman:” Played by Alejandro Calva, Batman is part of Epifanio Vargas’s inner circle, with ambitions to take over the cartel. These aspirations are ended, however, when he is killed by a target, roasted like a pig, then served up in a taco.
  • Marcela “La Conejo”: The Spanish actress Carmen Navarro plays a friend to the show’s main character, as she becomes the most powerful drug trafficker in southern Spain.
  • Willy Rangel: Mexican-Colombian actor Christian Tappan plays a not-very-nice but determined DEA agent who is out to get Mendoza, despite being on the verge of retirement.
  • Sheila: Spanish actress Cuca Escribano became one of Teresa Mendoza’s close friends after being a rival when Mendoza first came to Spain.
  • Teo Aljarafe: Spanish actor Miguel de Miguel plays a lawyer and financial advisor.

Season 2

  • Sofía Mendoza: Isabella Sierra plays Sofía Mendoza’s 14-year-old daughter, who is kidnapped and leads her mother back into a dangerous world of drugs and violence in season two.
  • Genoveva Alcalá: Kika Edgar is a Mexican actress and singer whose character on the show is a journalist who is the girlfriend of Epifanio Vargas. She uses this position to further her career ambitions.
  • Francesco Belmondo: Played by attractive Italian actor Raoul Bova, Francesco Belmondo is the one who kidnaps Sofia, Mendoza’s daughter. While a bad boy, he seems to be destined to become a love interest for Teresa Mendoza.
  • Jonathan Peres: In the second season, Chilean actor Tiago Correa plays a DEA agent determined to protect Teresa Mendoza, although she is a rising drug kingpin.
  • Alejandro Alcala: Mark Tacher plays a counselor and political advisor to Epifanio Vargas. He is a gay character from a family and social milieu that does not readily accept his orientation.
  • Antonio Alcala: Popular Mexican actor Eduardo Yáñez is returning to the show in season three, reprising his role as Antonio Alcala, but putting a different spin on the character.
  • ​​Faustino Sánchez Godoy: Colombian actor Lincoln Palomeque plays one of the “tough guys” of Colombian drug trafficking and does some business with Teresa Mendoza. 
  • Oleg Yosikov: Spanish actor Antonio Gil plays a Russian crime boss who is the friend and protector of Teresa Mendoza.

Will There Be a Season 3 of “La Reina del Sur?”

A June 15, 2021 press release from Telemundo reveals that work has begun on the third season of “La Reina del Sur.” While no premiere date was provided, the release says the series opens four years after season two with Teresa Mendoza in prison in the U.S. (Estados Unidos) for the murders of three DEA agents.

After being freed in a dramatic jail escape, Mendoza “returns to a covert world powered by alliances and secret deals, risking her life throughout Latin America with the fervent hope that she can reunite with Sofia and end her fugitive’s life at last.”

The globe-hopping production will feature famous Latin American sites, such as the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, Machu Picchu in Peru, Argentina’s glaciers, Santa Marta in Colombia, and many more.

The series will start its run in Bolivia, one of the six countries featured in it. Joining the cast will be Pepe Rapazote, known for his work in “Queen of the South” and “Shameless.” 

“In this new season, Latin America takes center stage,” says Marcos Santana, president of Telemundo Global Studios. “Fans and newcomers alike will be transported by the fearless Teresa Mendoza on a visually arresting journey into the distinctive locations that will make them feel back at home and connect with their favorite heroine as she embarks on her most explosive and personal adventure yet.”

Adds del Castillo about returning to her iconic role as Teresa Mendoza: “After [all these years], I love the character. The character is such an icon because she’s so flawed. And that’s why [viewers] love her.” She also hopes the show will three-peat, becoming the number 1-rated show as it was in its first and second seasons.

Learn More About Your Favorite Movies and Shows on BuddyTV

Like other series with a global sweep, a huge cast of characters, and lots of twists, turns, and subplots, “La Reina del Sur” can be an immersive pleasure. To further your enjoyment, BuddyTV serves as a one-stop-hub that gives you the inside scoop on your best-loved shows and movies — and the actors who make them come to life.

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Heather Reinblatt

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV